MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
CALL TO ORDER
December 16, 2014
1175 E. Main Street
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, Rosenthal, and Marsh were present.
Mayor Stromberg announced vacancies on the Public Arts, Transportation, Housing and Human Services, and Tree Commissions.
Councilor Slattery announced the Southern Oregon University football team would play in a national championship game for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
) Friday December 19, 2014.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Executive Session of November 18, 2014, Study Session of December 1, 2014 and Business Meeting of December 2, 2014 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
1. Presentation by Representative Peter Buckley and Senator Alan Bates on the upcoming legislative session
Representative Peter Buckley and Senator Alan Bates explained the state continued to come out of the recession and the economy was rebounding. State revenue was not at the level to make an investment in education but had made strides in healthcare. Reforms in public safety allowed them to stop construction plans for the next prison. They were able to add full day Kindergarten statewide but were not ready to bring back more school days, teachers, or programs. The legislature also discussed revenue and kicker reform.
Upcoming issues in the next session included climate change, the clean fuels act, a possible transportation package, implementing Measure 91, and mental health. Medical marijuana dispensaries would most likely fade out over the next 2-4 years as recreational marijuana outlets provided more access to marijuana due to legalization. There were concerns taxing marijuana would raise prices drastically and push consumers back to the black market.
The mental health system was broken and the bureaucracy in Salem Oregon nonfunctional with caseworkers spending 60% of their time reporting instead of taking care of their patients. Another issue was who should have the final authority and responsibility of the mentally ill, the county or the state. There were models around the country with better outcomes for half the price.
A transportation package was forthcoming. The state was moving away from the gas tax to a different funding mechanism. The clean fuels bill would pass again but there was concern the state was not aggressive enough regarding climate change and action.
Representative Buckley and Senator Bates explained Southern Oregon University (SOU) having to reconstruct the athletic facility had increased costs and jeopardized the swimming pool. There was the possibility of building the pool next to McNeal Pavilion with funding coming from a partnership between SOU, Ashland School District, and the City.
2. Annual presentation by the Planning Commission
Planning Commission Chair Richard Kaplan explained the Commission participated in indentifying a downtown review of zoning, worked on an assessment for the City’s approach to master planning, and infill strategies along transit corridors.
During 2014, the Planning Commission reviewed an application to modify Verde Village Subdivision’s Development Agreement, the Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Ordinance, short-term travel accommodations in residential zones, the Normal Neighborhood Plan, the master planning process, the Unified Land Use Ordinance, and amending the Wildfire Hazard Zone. Commissioners also sat in on the Downtown Parking Management and Circulation ad Hoc Advisory Committee, the System Development Charges Review Committee, and the North Neighborhood Plan Working Group.
Jonathan Chenjeri/1301 Iowa Street/
Voiced support for Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI) and explained the program further.
1. Approval of commission, committee, and board minutes
2. Special procurement for the purchase of one aerial lift bucket truck
3. Contract addendum – Evergreen Job & Safety Training, Inc.
4. Liquor license application for SOM dba Happy Bowl
5. Liquor License application for Jeff Chase dba Ashland Valero
6. Approval of a resolution titled, “A resolution adopting a supplemental budget increasing appropriations within the 2013-2015 biennium budget”
Councilor Rosenthal pulled Consent Agenda item #2 for discussion. Public Works Superintendent Mike Morrison deferred two electric wire reel trailers scheduled for replacement until the next biennium to purchase the aerial lift bucket truck. Time and personnel changes made purchasing the electric wire reel trailers difficult. IT & Electric Director Mark Holden added they had refurbished two existing trailers that would last another year.
Councilor Rosenthal/Voisin m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1. Direction to staff on how to enforce the Food and Beverage Tax ordinance
Motion from the December 2, 2014 meeting:
Councilor Marsh/Lemhouse m/s to defer enforcement of the Food & Beverage Tax Ordinance against prepared food operators at the Tuesday Growers Market until 2015.
Councilor Rosenthal/Lemhouse m/s to suspend Council rules. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg clarified the process for businesses out of compliance with the Food & Beverage tax and that it was usually resolved within a month. Staff sent forms in advance of the due date. If the City did not receive the tax within four days, staff contacted the business. Ten days later the City sends an estimate letter. Staff assesses fees and interest and if necessary forwards the issue to collections. Staff also sends a letter and forms to businesses the City was unaware were operating in town. Back tax owed was estimation based on similar businesses and made accuracy difficult.
Mayor Stromberg reinstated Council rules.
DISCUSSION continued on motion:
Councilor Voisin explained the City had not collected Food and Beverage taxes from the Growers Market for 22 years and did not think the City should collect unpaid taxes for 2014. Councilor Slattery would support the motion and emphasized this was not a trivial matter. It was incumbent on people doing business in a community to determine the rules and regulations. There was a shared responsibility and this was a learning experience.
Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to suspend Council rules. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Mr. Tuneberg was sure there were no records of the Growers Market paying the Food and Beverage tax in the past. State retention on records from 1993-1996 did not require the City to retain specific data.
Mayor Stromberg reinstated Council rules.
DISCUSSION continued on motion:
Councilor Rosenthal explained this was a matter of principal and resisted the notion that it was the City’s responsibility to inform people in business of a well known tax in effect for many years and renewed in 2009. He would vote against the motion because it was unfair to the law abiding businesses. Especially businesses not in compliance for years that came into compliance after being assessed late fees and interest charges. A business needed to know the rules where they operate. Councilor Lemhouse added this was not a new tax and it was not fair to characterize the City as retroactively taxing the vendors on something the vendors should have paid all along. He understood vendors received misinformation from the Growers Market. In the past, the City held businesses accountable in very dramatic ways for not passing through taxes and had to stand firm. Inconsistency made him uncomfortable and he would not support the motion. Councilor Morris would not support motion either. He preferred tax due from the time of notification instead of all of 2014. It was a matter of fairness and consistency. The voters approved the tax twice.
Councilor Marsh noted there was ambiguity on all sides. Lack of City records taxing the Growers Market in the past, vendors not aware the tax applied to their operations, and the Growers Market having one business license for all the operations. Enforcement in Ashland was about achieving compliance. The Growers Market was putting together a fair and reasonable plan to comply in 2015. Most of the vendors did not collect the tax during 2014. Councilor Slattery clarified the City had taken strong enforcement actions in the past on businesses that collected the tax and did not pay it and that was different from the Growers Market. The City had somewhat of a shared responsibility. He would support the motion.
Mayor Stromberg understood the question of principles and consistency. What made this situation different was they were not ongoing physical businesses and the vendor had not collected the tax in the past and suspected they did not have excess profit. Additionally this was probably not a large amount of money from the City’s point of view and questioned the time and effort staff would go through to illicit estimates. He supported compliance and making a clean start in 2015. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Marsh, Voisin, and Slattery, YES; Councilor Lemhouse, Rosenthal, and Morris, NO. Mayor Stromberg broke the tie with a YES vote. Motion passed 4-3.
Councilor Voisin wanted to amend the Ashland Municipal Code for the Food and Beverage Tax 4.34.030 Exemptions
and add the Growers Market. Councilor Lemhouse raised a point of order that the explanation could come after Councilor Voisin made the motion. Mayor Stromberg ruled in favor of the point of order.
Councilor Voisin motioned to amend the municipal code for the Food and Beverage Tax 4.34.030 Exemptions
reading “sold by vendors at a Growers Market.”
Definition of Growers Market was the operation of a display space, booth, or table maintained for displaying or selling merchandise at any trade show, convention, festival, fair, market, or swap meet, provided the sponsor is licensed to do business. The definition came from the municipal code 6.040.085.A.4
under Business Licenses
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained this was an amendment to the code and would be an ordinance requiring notification mailed to Council two weeks in advance and then first and second reading. Councilor Voisin withdrew the motion and wanted it added to the next meeting.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Biennial 2013-2015 Fifth Quarter Financial Report
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg explained the report showed quarter-to-quarter increases in the fiscal year comparison that totaled approximately $3,800,000 more expended. Total cash balances had gone down between the two fiscal years by $4,000,000. Things were running normally. The City would soon receive the first cash distribution for property tax of $8,000,000. The City will be down in year-to-year total cash balances $1,500,000 primarily due to capital improvements.
Council wanted the reports sent to the Budget Committee a week earlier in the future and an executive summary added as well.
Councilor Rosenthal/Slattery m/s to accept the Fifth Quarter Financial Report for Biennial 2013-2015. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
2. Adoption of the Strategic Plan for the use of social service grant funds
Housing Program Specialist Linda Reid and the chair of the Housing and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Chair Rabbi Joshua Boettiger explained the following changes made to the plan:
- Assistance to obtain and/or maintain housing
- Supports to increase accessibility and availability of transportation options/services
- Support proposals that leverage community collaborations or enhance community or existing regional partnerships
- 20% of the overall grant allocation will be made available to support small grants; small grants include any request of up to $5,000, should the City not receive enough applications to allocate the balance of funds. The City will have the discretion to allocate any remaining balances to small grants.
- Request the grant recipients to list their anticipated measurable activity/program outcomes
Adoption of the plan would designate the Housing and Human Services Commission as the review body to provide recommendations to the Council.
Councilor Marsh/Slattery m/s to adopt the Strategic Plan for the Use of Social Service Grant funds. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Marsh supported the plan. Having the Housing and Human Services Commission participate in the process would be a tremendous benefit. Councilor Lemhouse had reservations removing the process from the Citizen Budget Committee. Alternately, the work the Commission produced convinced him otherwise and he supported the plan. Councilor Voisin noted the Commission met five Council goals and supported the Commission’s efforts. Voice Vote: Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, Rosenthal, and Marsh, YES. Motion passed.
3. Economic Development Strategy program and activity update
Management Analyst Adam Hanks provided background on the Economic Development Strategy, shared program highlights, and scheduled activities for the next 6-12 months. Mr. Hanks clarified the City website had a link to the Ashland Business Portal and contained the City regulatory pieces. He planned to add focused City targeted information on the City website and further link in the portal.
Council wanted website statistics regarding the portal brought to the Study Session for the Economic Development Strategy.
Councilor Voisin noted the Chamber of Commerce conducted the last Business Retention and Expansion Survey, wanted an independent source to do the second survey, and suggested using the Southern Oregon University (SOU) Small Business Department. Mr. Hanks explained the Chamber of Commerce was under contract for the survey. Councilor Voisin urged staff to encourage the Chamber of Commerce to consider hiring SOU to conduct the survey. Mayor Stromberg agreed the SOU Research Center was a valuable asset but the Business Retention and Expansion Survey depended on the relationships between the Chamber of Commerce and the businesses they were interviewing. Sandra Slattery, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce recently presented the Ashland Business Portal to Business Oregon who thought the model was outstanding and encouraged her to apply for national awards.
Councilor Lemhouse raised a point of clarification that the suggestion Councilor Voisin was making was not actual direction to staff from Council. Councilor Voisin clarified she wanted the City to consider SOU and getting an independent research organization to conduct the Business Retention and Expansion survey. It would be good to have an independent source.
4. Responses to RFPs for downtown beautification projects
Engineering Services Manager Scott Fleury explained the City received two responses to the requests for proposal (RFP) for landscape improvements to the Lithia Way and Pioneer Street parking lot and the triangle area at the corner of Lithia Way and Pioneer Street. The proposals came in high and staff recommended rejecting both and contacting three to five local landscape architects for informal solicitations instead.
Criteria for informal and formal solicitations were similar. City Administrator Dave Kanner further explained the proposals received from the RFPs were not cost effective for the projects. Staff normally used an informal process for projects this small and it often consisted of a phone call. In this case, they did not due to the Council’s interest in transparency and wanting proposals brought back to them for discussion and approval. Mr. Fleury added the same team that reviewed the RFPs would rate the informal solicitations.
Councilor Rosenthal/Morris m/s to direct staff to move forward with a less formal procurement process with the final design approval by Council. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Rosenthal supported staff and the rationale for an informal solicitation. Councilor Lemhouse wanted to ensure the process was clear and transparent to the public. Councilor Marsh would support the motion and liked the idea of Ashland contractors working on the projects. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Rosenthal, Lemhouse, Marsh, Slattery, and Voisin, YES. Motion passed.
5. Council direction to proceed with downtown plaza beautification projects
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer explained the Downtown Plaza Beautification ad Hoc Committee made two recommendations related to the Plaza. The first was adding three freestanding planters with irrigation, and additional plants to the landscape beds with decorative fencing at the curb. The second recommendation would replace pavers located within the half circle of the Plaza. Staff recommended informal solicitations instead of the formal request for proposal process.
Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to direct staff to move forward and solicit bids for these projects using the intermediate procurement process with final design approval by Council.
Councilor Lemhouse noted it was time to move forward since Council did not want to pursue a master plan for the Plaza. Council would approve the final design prior to implementation. Councilor Marsh was reluctant to approve the second project and questioned whether the community wanted to invest further in the paver controversy to the extent of $15,000. It would not placate the people upset with the pavers and she was not sure if anyone else was interested.
Councilor Marsh/Rosenthal m/s to amend the motion and eliminate the second project. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Rosenthal explained the Plaza was like a work of art that would never satisfy everyone and was not sure the City needed to invest $15,000 to replace pavers. The recent redesign was a huge improvement over what it was before. Councilor Slattery commented that Council asked a committee to make recommendations and he was reluctant to go against it. Councilor Morris would support the second project for the same reason Councilor Slattery stated.
Councilor Slattery/Lemhouse m/s to suspend Council rules. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Downtown Plaza Beautification ad Hoc Committee Chair Brent Thompson explained the Committee tried to give Council manageable projects to debate and alter. The vote on the pavers was not unanimous. The Committee strongly supported fencing to protect the landscaping. He suspected the Committee would want to add more planters in addition to the three proposed.
Councilor Lemhouse/Morris m/s to reinstate Council rules. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Continued discussion on amendment to main motion:
Councilor Voisin would support the motion. She did not think the City should spend that much money on the Plaza when there was a committee looking into a downtown master plan.
Councilor Slattery/Marsh m/s to suspend Council rules. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Downtown Plaza Beautification ad Hoc Committee member Dawkins disagreed with changing the pavers. Ms. Seltzer added there were times where the Committee felt their sole purpose was to respond to the pressure to do something about the pavers. Chair Thompson clarified it was a split vote and it was Council’s decision.
Councilor Lemhouse/Morris m/s to reinstate Council rules. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Slattery/Marsh m/s to call for the question. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Roll Call Vote on amendment: Councilor Rosenthal, Marsh, Slattery, Voisin, YES; Councilor Morris and Lemhouse, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
Continued discussion on amended main motion:
Councilor Voisin would not support the motion. There was significant movement in one of the committees to have a master plan and to spend money now did not make sense. Councilor Lemhouse did not want a misconception there was a master plan. He was unaware of a master plan for the downtown at this point. Roll Call Vote on amended main motion: Councilor Morris, Rosenthal, Lemhouse, Marsh, Slattery, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
Councilor Marsh wanted staff to determine if there was Transient Occupancy Tax money in the current year’s fund that could go to hanging baskets in the downtown. City Administrator Dave Kanner talked to the City Managers for the City of Phoenix and the City of Central Point who paid Four Seasons Nursery $300 per basket to hang the baskets, water and fertilize them during the summer. Four Seasons Nursery was willing to give the City of Ashland the same contract. The baskets would not go on posts with signs.
Councilor Lemhouse/Rosenthal m/s to direct staff to bring back a proposal regarding hanging plants in the downtown area. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Approval of a resolution titled, “A resolution establishing a bee sub-committee and consenting to the requirements of becoming a Bee City USA”
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the Parks Commission agreed to form a sub-committee as part of becoming a Bee City USA. Other steps involved filling out the application, placing a Bee City USA sign in the community and holding an annual celebration. Council needed to adopt the resolution establishing Ashland as a Bee City USA. Park Commissioner Chair Stefani Seffinger confirmed the Parks and Recreation Department would host the annual celebration and plant pollinator plants in Ashland Creek Park with a Bee City Park sign. The Park dedication would also incorporate the Bee City USA annual celebration.
Cara Cruickshank/1193 Ashland Mine Road/
Explained she was the founding director of a non-profit started in Washington called the Natural Landscapes Project and a member of the Pollinator Project of Rogue Valley. President Obama was interested in a federal strategy to promote the health of honeybees and other pollinators. Pollinators included bats, humming birds, bugs, and others. Protecting bees and pollinators protected the food supply. It was an economic issue and important. Colony collapse disorders were causing a 10% loss in bees annually over the past decade. There were only a few Bee City USA cities in the nation and Ashland would be on the forefront of a movement receiving executive level support. There was a growing awareness of pesticides and habitat loss for pollinators. Pesticides wrecked the navigation systems bees and salmon used and affected neurological and reproductive systems in humans.
Councilor Slattery/Lemhouse m/s to approve Resolution #2014-25. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Slattery spoke in favor of the groups that lobbied for Bee City USA. Councilor Lemhouse added it was a worthwhile venture. Councilor Marsh thought it was great the Parks and Recreation Department had the initiative and creativity to take this on. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Voisin, Marsh, Rosenthal, Slattery, and Lemhouse, YES. Motion passed.
2. Second reading of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance of the City of Ashland repealing Ordinance No. 2052 and replacing in its entirety existing Title 18 Land Use of the Ashland Municipal Code with a restated and revised Unified Land Use Ordinance”
Planning Manager Maria Harris noted one substantive edit to 18.2.5.030.A, B,
regarding purveous paving that changed from “whichever was greater” to “whichever is less” to make it proportional to the lot size. She went on to read corrections to scrivener errors.
Councilor Voisin/Morris m/s to approve Ordinance #3105 as amended.
Councilor Voisin/Rosenthal m/s to amend motion to Table 18.2.6.030 concerning standards for maximum building height in Non-Residential Zones as follows: In the portion of the of the Table 18.2.6.030 on page 2-53 setting forth the maximum building height in C-1 Zones, retain the words “40 feet” and delete all other words in that portion of the table. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Voisin did not want the height raised in commercial zones. She supported the entire land use ordinance except for the height increase. Councilor Rosenthal had similar concerns in relation to public safety equipment needs. He would vote against the amendment but hoped the City would come up with a way to reconcile competing needs and policy decisions. Councilor Lemhouse would not support the amendment. The City had pushed an infill strategy aggressively for many years and would find a way to deal with the public safety issues. Councilor Voisin commented increasing building height to 55 feet with an additional parapet would take away from the beauty and quaintness of the community in addition to public safety concerns. Roll Call Vote on amendment: Councilor Voisin, YES; Councilor Lemhouse, Marsh, Morris, Rosenthal, and Slattery, NO. Motion failed 5-1.
Roll Call Vote main motion: Councilor Lemhouse, Marsh, Morris, Voisin, Rosenthal, and Slattery, YES. Motion passed.
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained Council needed to adopt Findings inadvertently left off the Council Communication. He clarified information in the newspaper regarding a provision requiring a conditional use permit (CUP) to increase height to 55-feet in the C-1D zone. That provision had existed since the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan. What was new was allowing height up to 55-feet in the C-1 zone.
Councilor Lemhouse/Morris m/s to adopt Findings & Conclusions repealing Ordinance No. 2052 and replacing in its entirety existing Title 18 Land Use of the Ashland Municipal Code with a restated and revised Unified Land Use Ordinance. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Lemhouse thanked Ms. Harris for her hard work and effort amending the code. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Lemhouse, Marsh, Morris, Voisin, Rosenthal, and Slattery, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Councilor Rosenthal thanked Councilor Slattery for his great service to the City and was pleased he would serve on the Board of Trustees for Southern Oregon University. Councilor Lemhouse added his gratitude to Councilor Slattery. Councilor Marsh shared a story about a homeless man who was moving into an apartment at the end of the week and thanked Councilor Slattery for driving the need for a Resource Center. Councilor Slattery responded he was very proud of what Council had accomplished and thanked Council, City Administrator Dave Kanner, staff, the City Recorder, City Attorney Dave Lohman, and Mayor Stromberg.
ADJOURNMENT OF BUSINESS MEETING
Meeting adjourned at 10:12 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John Stromberg, Mayor